When I first saw the track listing for Kristin Chenoweth’s ‘The Art Of Elegance,” I thought to myself, “Meh.” I thought the whole idea a bit uninspired, the song selection very familiar. But of course, there was no way I wasn’t going to listen to this. At first listen, I thought it was quite good, if a bit too clean maybe? This music would be great for the ballroom scene of a romantic comedy, I snarkily said to myself. (Why couldn’t she do Gilbert & Sullivan tribute album instead?) But of course, as I listened to it more, I found myself finding new and great things with each spin, and now I am hooked. I can’t stop listening to this.
Maybe it’s the piano playing, by the great Alan Broadbent, or the top notch production by Steve Tyrell, but I keep on coming back to Kristin’s. She give these songs little nuances that make them sound very Kristin. There is much joy in the way she sings “Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart, ” for example, and a light sexiness in ‘Bewitched Bothered, and Bewildered.” In the latter song, she exudes a wholesome kind of sexiness. And of course, she can still bring the drama, like in ‘I’m A Fool To Want You.’ A little pause here, a sigh there, and you can feel the pain, the self-pity, the marvelous melancholy of it all. The simplicity of “Smile” made me cry. When I saw her sing this song live, the effect was more chamber-like, but with Broadbent on the piano, she is made to go though so many emotions here, like a mini area. And even though Chenoweth is a soprano, her middle range here is beautiful, and you never feel like she is slumming singing these songs. This is a beautiful, and yes, elegant recording. Dim the lights, have a glass of wine, and indulge.